National Poetry Month Day 28: Jessica Abughattas







We may be in a simulation, but love exists.
It was us then:
Arguing in the parked car
in front of the New Year’s Eve party.
It still wrecks me to drive past your exit,
through that wilderness that held us. The apartment
with splintery floors where I got high
in the bathtub, drowned some books that way.
Poetry is mortifying, so American.
Don’t be precious. Pay us.

But there are perfectly clear days
traversing some freeway that you occur
to me whole, demanding to be felt.
When I was lit by stage light, I couldn’t see you
but I knew you, your wet coat two winters ago,
all of it—the movies we watched, the gesture
while talking at the window ledge.
I’ve become invariably sentimental.
In secret, at our most devastated,
we prayed to Abraham’s God.
People, that’s all there is.
The memory of what we did, how we felt with them.
To be alive is negotiable.
Everything else is devastating.
We didn’t end, we just stopped.


Photograph of Jessica Abughattas by Christine Donlon.

Jessica Abughattas’s debut collection, Strip, won the 2020 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize. She is a Kundiman fellow and a graduate of the Antioch University Los Angeles MFA in Creative Writing. She lives in Los Angeles. More from this author →